good neighbors

Verona Wantoch (left) and Marilyn Newland put together a box of gifts for the Good Neighbors at Mount Olive church in Norfolk prior to Distribution Day in 2016. This year, food and gifts will be distributed on Wednesday, Dec. 18.

Christmas seems to bring out the best in people.

For most people, the holiday brings memories of good times growing up. Other people have memories of having to do without. Still, many of these people have overcome and now have the ability to make it better for others.

Whatever the reason, Christmas is a time of giving. And for hundreds of Northeast and North Central Nebraskans, that includes donating to the Norfolk Area Good Neighbors.

The campaign will begin today as usual — the Monday after Thanksgiving, which this year is Dec. 2. And the Norfolk Daily News will again kick off this year’s campaign with a donation of $500.

Good Neighbors was formed in the 1960s by a small group of women who felt there were a few people in the area needing emergency assistance. The first year, they assisted with only Christmas gifts.

In 1974, the agency expanded. What was then known as “Good Neighbors of Norfolk” was formed. There is an active volunteer board that meets quarterly.

The basic concept of the program has not changed. The people and nature of the requests have changed somewhat. The need has always been there and the pleas for help have grown.

Good Neighbors isn’t one of the community’s largest agencies. It is governed by a six-member advisory board and began as an extension of the Norfolk Ministerial Association.

Allene Johnson, director of the Good Neighbors, and her volunteer staff have begun taking names of individuals and families to be assisted.

The pantry is open on weekdays from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., with intakes for the holidays taken from 1 to 3 p.m. The office is located at 132 S. Fourth St. in Norfolk, near the corner of Fourth Street and Madison Avenue.

Assisted by the Daily News with publicity in its annual fund drive, this year’s goal has been set at $75,000.

The Rev. Steve Lund is president of the advisory board. Lund said because of the continued generosity of Norfolk and Northeast Nebraska, the agency has continued to be in a position to help others with food all year, as well as other needs.

That includes hardships before the holidays. Some suffer from health problems. Others may find themselves out of work.

Whatever the reason, the Norfolk Area Good Neighbors program is available to step in and help Northeast Nebraskans who find themselves in need.

Designed to offer one-time assistance, the program, for example, helps with providing clothes or essential supplies in emergency situations or paying a utility bill, rent or a prescription for those who qualify.

Although the fund drive happens during the Christmas season, the money raised provides year-round assistance. The Good Neighbors also provides food and gifts for children before the holidays.

Daily totals will be provided along with occasional stories in the Daily News of how the drive is going.

In other news

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